Sunday, August 01, 2010

Dimanches sont gratuites!

On the first Sunday of every month admission is free at most of the National Museums in Paris so, today, we took advantage of that little perk.

(We were going to do laundry, but that can wait until tomorrow.)

We started out the day at Le Musée National du Moyen Age, the Museum of the Middle Ages, which I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Just so you understand what is to follow, I must tell you that my first university degree was in Medieval and Renaissance history. So... Sandi kind of knew what she was in for when she came along to the museum with me this morning. Her: browsing through the displays then waiting for an hour and a half on a bench outside. Me: reading every bit of information, gazing at every artifact, and spending 25 minutes in the gift shop. I did warn her...

Look! A gargoyle I could pet.

I'm not going to give you all the details of what's to follow; I'll just show you the pretty pictures. Besides, I didn't really write anything down like I usually do so I'm not sure how much information I can remember accurately. But there was so much to see!

Illustrated Books of Hours.

Lots of tapestries, including the very famous Lady with the Unicorn, which is in the second picture. My camera takes terrible photos in dark spaces and the room in which this set of tapestries was displayed has to be kept dark and cool to preserve the fabric.

Religious sculpture - many pieces were salvaged from churches that were destroyed during the French Revolution.

Dishware made from pottery. This was a later-Medieval invention, as most dishes were made from gold or silver. The invention of pottery brought personal dishware to the masses, plus it allowed the nobility to have an "everyday" set of dishes, much like we have today. Of course, theirs would have been embellished with gold and the family crest, like the plate above.

I remembered to look up in the chapel. Amazing ceiling!

Remember the heads from Notre-Dame? Here they are - les Têtes des rois.

After the visit to Le Musée National du Moyen Age, we went home for a late lunch. Of course, I was not ready to call it a day, so I decided to go to the Musée Rodin (it was also free today). After a bit of deliberation, Sandi said she'd come along.

The story behind the Musée Rodin is that Auguste Rodin lived at the Hôtel Biron, a magnificent house built in the 1700s that had become a kind of refuge for artists. When the government decided to kick out all the artists, Rodin made a deal - he would donate all his artwork, as well as work he had collected from other artists, on the condition that he be allowed to remain there until his death. It was also agreed that the building would be turned into a museum to showcase his and others' works of art. You can read the whole story here.

What an amazing place. I couldn't believe the body of work that Rodin created during his lifetime! His most famous sculpture is probably "The Thinker" (Le Penseur).

The Three Shadows (Les trois ombres).

The Prodigal Son (Le fils prodigue).

Ahhh... can't remember the name of this one. Darn. Might be a study for The Gates of Hell.

The Head of St. John the Baptist (on a plate).

I love to see the process! First version:

Final version of Sleep (Le sommeil).

The Kiss. Sigh.

Man with a Broken Nose.

The gardens behind the museum were beautiful too. Lots of green, flowers, benches on which to rest for a while.

I can certainly see why Rodin didn't want to leave the Hôtel Biron!

Tonight I succumbed to my nostalgia for Italy and bought a gelato after supper. The little shop on the corner always has a line-up in the evenings. Now I know why! Unbelievable! In French (yes, I must practice) I asked the girl at the counter how many flavours I could have in a small cup. She told me as many as I wanted, so I got chocolate (of course), noix de coco, and pistachio. Oh yum yum yum. But a small cup was plenty. There's a reason why the obesity rate in Europe is so much lower than in North America - their food just tastes so much better that you don't need as much of it to feel satisfied. That's my theory anyway.

Sandi got her crêpe tonight so all is right in the world. She had an Amaretto crêpe and rated it quite high. Nutella still stands in first place (because it's chocolate), but this one runs a close second. I think she and the crêpe guy will be good friends by the end of our trip!

I hope I'm not boring you to death with my little adventures. Also, please excuse my French post titles and sprinkling of French terms. I'm not trying to be pretentious, but I do need the practice and every time I write a post and have to look up a word or two, I'm learning something. Bear with me. We might all be fluent by the end of August... ha!


Barb said...

Oh...I just love it, the pictures, the information...thanks so much!! I am living through you!

Tangos Treasures said...

Boring??? NOT!!
Love it all!!

Pat said...

You know I love it........of course, I do have to say, your photos of the first museum were enough for me and I'd have been out on the bench with Sandi rather than reading all the info about the exhibits. LOL CUTE dress you are wearing in that photo by Mr. Gargoyle!!! (But always have cute dresses!)

goldenbird said...

Both of those museums look amazing. The Illustrated Book of Hours ... wow. With your background I can see why you wanted to stay and absorb as much as possible.

Hey, I had a little bit of crepe for dinner tonight. It had spinach, cheese, and tomatoes. Not as good as Nutella, but quite yummy.

PunkiePie said...

Keep it coming!

Sara said...

Hey, I'm loving seeing Paris through your eyes...I'm so happy you are there and enjoying yourself!

Quilting Lab said...

Enjoying all the posts of your trip! Also like seeing the French then English translation, perhaps we all will learn a little French!!

WooHoo red shoes!!